But there's much, much more to Rondo than meets the fans' eyes. Like a hermit crab that outgrows its shell and needs to find a new one, Rondo has outgrown his role in Boston. In 2008, he was pretty perfect for the Celtics. He was too young to demand too many finishing touches and his running mates were still too good to be denied the ball. They could run, somewhat, with their young gazelle and Rondo could use his superior passing skills to pick targets out at will and watch them finish.
As time has gone on, though, the rest of the team has slowed down. And Rondo has been forced to slow down with them. Kevin Garnett can't beat anyone down the floor, or bait teams into these kinds of alley oops anymore. Paul Pierce was never flying down the lane on a break, but he's been even slower this year. And Jermaine O'Neal couldn't get out ahead of the break if he had a quarter-length head start. For one of the fastest guys in the league, Rondo has to feel like he's running with a training parachute attached to him.
Pardon me as I excerpt from my own piece over at Crossover Chronicles, but with all the Rondo nastiness around here, I felt like we might as well kick off the day with a different side of the story.
The bottom line… this has gone on far enough. We've crossed from criticism of a player, which is fine, into finding reasons to bash the kid and scapegoating him. That whole mess with him leaving the locker room and not talking to the media crossed the line for me. It's nothing every player in that room hasn't done before.
Is Rondo flawed? Most certainly. But he still only turns 26 in just more than a week, and you're trying to get a speed demon to play half court basketball. How long can Rondo go on taking 22 shots like he did in Chicago while Pierce takes 10 before the CAPTAIN OF THE TEAM says something about needing more shots?
Before we go spouting off on Rondo… take in the whole picture of what his, what this team is, and what Rondo (and the team) will be in the future. I hope that piece lays out the argument well enough.
On Page 2: JaJuan Johnson was motivated by Doc's yelling
"I wouldn't expect it any other way," shrugged Johnson, whose soft voice seems as though it could never reach the volume Rivers displayed that night.
"Throughout my whole basketball career, I've always had a coach that was tough on me," Johnson said. "I like it. It does nothing but motivate me. I know some people, when they get yelled at or things like that, they kind of get down. It makes me focus a little bit more, just get locked in. I have no problem with a coach yelling at me or telling me different things. It does nothing but help."
This is one kid I'm starting to get a little more excited about. He's starting to show more and more promise of being a solid contributor for this team in the future.
Let's see… he can shoot, run, jump, rebound and block shots. That pretty much covers it, right?
He's still very tentative and he's still learning, so I'm still not expecting TOO much from the kid this year. But it was realy nice to see a big guy run the break (along with Chris Wilcox) and finish a feed from Rondo.
Let's hope Johnson soaks up as much of the knowledge from guys like Kevin Garnett while he can. This kid is going to be alright regardless… but the knowledge available to him right now could make him better, sooner.
The rest of the links: